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Beyond Access: Advancing Health Equity with Virtual Care

General Session 6 (GS6)

Quality, equity and clinical outcomes for all

Ajay Gupta, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Ambetter (Centene)

Timothy Law, DO, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Highmark Health

Mark D. Smith, MD, MBA, Teladoc Health board member and Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of California at San Franciso

Moderator: Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella, Chief Medical Officer, Teladoc Health

Health Equity means more than simply improving access to care – it is also about improving experiences, quality, and outcomes for all. How can virtual care help advance health equity? That was the heart of the discussion between Dr. Vidya Raman-Tangella, Chief Medical Officer, Teladoc Health, and a panel of senior clinical leaders at Forum 2023.

The experts on the panel agreed that the advantage to embracing virtual care as part of the standard delivery of care is the ability to improve access and outcomes and reach people who may not have sought care otherwise.

Early in the discussion, Timothy Law, DO, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Highmark Health said he believes it is time to embrace virtual care as central to how we provide care to patients.

“So, I hope we get out of the mode of calling it virtual care at some point. It’s just healthcare being accessed virtually.”

Mark D. Smith, MD, MBA, Teladoc Health board member and Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, added: “Who here has gone into the bank to deposit a check lately? Most other service industries revolutionized the business model with modern IT decades ago. What is most exciting to me now is people’s newfound confidence in this technology.”

Dr. Raman-Tangella explained that at Teladoc Health, nearly 60 percent of participants who come to the company’s primary care program, Primary360, report that they have never had a primary care provider (PCP) relationship in the past. Nearly 30 percent of those participants were diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes in their initial Primary360 visit. Through this relationship, Teladoc Health can connect patients to resources and a treatment path, and close critical gaps in their health on a longer-term basis.

 

Deepening the Meaning of Access

Dr. Smith highlighted that virtual care is more than just convenient when you consider that so many people that we all serve rely on public transportation to get to an appointment or suffer a loss of wages just to visit a care provider in person.

“We [traditional healthcare] are the only service industry that has institutionalized a waiting room,” said Dr. Smith. “For people who have to take two buses across town or for people who are hourly workers, when you got to take half a day off to go see a doctor, to get a piece of information, that’s a big hit.”

Ajay Gupta, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Ambetter (Centene) believes more mainstreamed virtual care can allow the industry lean into value-based care and move away from “fee-for-service” care, which can improve quality and clinical outcomes, and deliver care in ways that are more meaningful for different populations.

“It’s important that we are making sure we have the right quality measures and we’re doing the right things,” said Dr. Gupta. “Value-based care is important, and getting the doctor engaged in that side of it is when you start to really see progress.”

Added Dr. Raman-Tangella: “In my mind, value-based care is at the heart of what we call whole-person care — physical health, mental health, and social needs.”

Ending the session, the panel concluded it is paramount to meet patients where they are – physically, emotionally, and culturally — so we can deliver improved outcomes and quality care.

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Forum 2023 Session Summaries

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